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May 11, 2010 4:39 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Hamptons Online sues former publisher, seeking millions in damages

May 11, 2010 4:39 PM

“It was on ongoing issue, but it only became a problem after he was terminated and refused to pay the money back,” Mr. Van Cott said.

He also still owes Hamptons Online $54,000 for personal loans and advances the company extended to him, according to the suit. That includes the trade-in value of a company vehicle that Hamptons Online says Mr. Florio traded in to a car dealership when he bought himself a 2008 Chevy Tahoe.

The lawsuit also alleges that former Hamptons Online employees now working for VUE Master Media have been soliciting Hamptons.com’s advertising clients and disparaging Hamptons Online in the process. “[They] have been trying to harm and have harmed Hamptons Online’s relationship with its advertisers,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit also states that Ms. Aurichio was fired from Hamptons.com in November when she was found to be behind anonymous comments left on Hamptons.com in October that disparaged the quality of the website’s articles. Additionally, on January 1, she said in an e-mail to a Hamptons.com advertising client that the employees of Hamptons.com “are just not nice people and do not do business honorably ...”

Hamptons Online suggests in the lawsuit that Mr. Florio authorized her conduct to “hold Hamptons Online up to ridicule, scorn, contempt and humiliation, and intended to impugn its character and reputation.”

In addition to seeking reimbursement of attorneys’ fees and millions in compensatory and punitive damages, Hamptons Online is seeking any profits VUE Master Media has made off the alleged copyright infringements. The company also wants the court to grant an injunction barring VUE Master Media from further use of copyrighted material and to return it all to Hamptons.com.

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I have to say that Mr Florio has a great vision....creating Hampton.com (I thought it was a great site) and now HamptonsVue.com.
By Bel (86), southampton on May 12, 10 9:53 AM
Hmmm.. there could be some merit to this law suit. While the content is completely different, the look of the site is very similar..right down to the logo, and color scheme. To the former employees of hamptons.com now working for hamptonsvue.com, never burn bridges.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on May 12, 10 10:21 AM
2 members liked this comment
Another classic case of me, myself and I.
By ride the truth wave (125), southampton on May 12, 10 10:51 AM
Thanks 27East for the info. The old Hamptons.Com has become so boring I stopped checking it. HanptonsVue is like the old site. I just miss the cams. They're still no match for 27East but occasionally give a different slant on issues.
By hamptonsnrcit (47), sag harbor on May 12, 10 11:28 AM
Theft of source code by departing employees is very common, suits like this would happen more often were they not so expensive to litigate. Must be some personal animosity here.
By Funbeer (273), Southampton on May 12, 10 6:39 PM
631politics.com (TwinFors.com) always got more page views than Hamptons.com BTW.
By Mr Suffolk (113), Twin Forks on May 12, 10 9:15 PM
Meant twinforks.com above. These lawsuits are for way too much money. The Island's best domain -- longisland.com -- recently sold for about $350,000. Hamptons.com can't be worth more than that.
By Mr Suffolk (113), Twin Forks on May 12, 10 9:23 PM
Spring is here. And with it comes the barnyard aromas that are concealed in winter by the need to keep the animals indoors.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on May 12, 10 9:45 PM
dura lex sed lex
By nellie (451), sag harbor on May 12, 10 10:25 PM
1 member liked this comment
Rob Florio created hamptons online and hamptons.com. Now greedy investors are trying to claim what's rightfully his. I don't know all the facts but I do know that rob florio has been synonymous with hamptons online since the old BBS days in the early 90's. I assume way before there were any investors involved.
By local414 (10), southampton on May 13, 10 9:43 AM
I think that Ms. Aurichio that the employees of Hamptons.com “are just not nice people and do not do business honorably ...”
I know several advertiser that refused to go back to them, not because of their site, but because of their sales manager's attitude.

I wish the best of luck to Mr. Florio and I hope he ends up owning Hamptons.com in the retaliatory slander suit he should file, if he hasn't already...
By NandSforker (3), Ronkonkoma on May 13, 10 11:16 AM
There's a particular detail in this report that seems to say it all.

Mostly every employee of Hamptons.Com had stayed loyal to Mr. Florio and went with him to his new venture.

I wish Mr. Florio the very best of luck in all of his endeavors. He is one of best representatives of the East End.
By elliot (254), sag harbor on May 13, 10 11:51 AM
most every employee? you sure about that? check your facts. this isn't about being a representative either. it's about horribly misusing company funds. i would not put it past this guy whatsoever. he may charm but he's no business man.
By seawolf (3), Stony Brook on May 13, 10 2:06 PM
1 member liked this comment
I have no idea of the lawsuit's merit, but I just wanted to thank Rob Florio and the Hamptons Online BBS for encouraging my interests in computers as well as my peers, many who work in the industry today. This bulletin board service predated the modern internet and hopefully will remain a part of history on the east end. I fondly remember the days of logging in on my 1200 bps modem 15 years ago and when they changed from ANSI to RIP Script....The stories I'll tell my grandchildren (lol).
By Aspatuck Gardens (30), Westhampton Beach on May 13, 10 7:34 PM
1 member liked this comment
Like all things American, you need to read between the lines here. Rob is an honest, hardworking person who had the smarts, initiative,drive, ambition, talent and know how to revolutionize our ability to get news/culture/arts on the East End by just hitting Enter. Big egos get in the way and the brainchild gets chewed up and spit out. Don't forget who bore this baby. It was Rob and he deserves a lot of credit and support.
By pam (2), Southampton on May 13, 10 7:48 PM
Honest, hardworking person? Are you kidding? All this guy has ever done run around scamming people to invest in his businesses, which are poorly managed and don't make profits; i.e. Hamptons Telephone.

And apparently we are now learning, once he finds a sucker to help him out, he steals money, software, passwords, domain names and a VW bus? Come on. Honest??
By RealLocal (76), Bridgehampton on May 14, 10 1:19 PM
I concur with Pam. Rob was the vision behind Hamptons.com.

Its the same story as Kathleens/Tates. Investors getting in the way of someones vision.
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on May 15, 10 7:07 AM
What a joke. Screw vision. Somebody had a vision at Enron too, and you know what, they paid the price for misusing their power too. His vision was to live comfortably, to spend money that the investors didn't have, and that's what he did.
By traffic (26), Southampton on May 18, 10 6:21 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By tuckahoetrip (46), Water Mill on May 13, 10 8:45 PM
Wow.. I did not know that Rob had sold off any part of Hamptons Online! And how he's being sued by them!?! How ironic! I guess it comes down to the contract he signed when he sold Hamptons Online and any non-compete clauses in that contract or his termination agreement, etc. Good luck Rob!
By Rich Morey (378), Brooklyn on May 13, 10 11:49 PM
Hamptonyte-DOT-blogspot has a hilarious take on this, but I sort of agree with RealLocal. Florio sounds sleazy and I can totally see him running off with unjustified expenses on the company account. That said, Hamptonyte blog's take on how Hamptons.com fired him for wanting to practice journalism is spot on!
By DrEngine (10), Brookhaven on May 14, 10 5:38 PM
This article is disgraceful. What has the press come to? Everything about this is wrong. Without Rob Florio hamptons.com would have never even neared being one of the top viewed sites in the region. He created that company and respect should be payed to him. "Unfair Competition"?? I wish the best of luck to Rob, hamptonsvue, and whatever other projects he is working on!
By hamptongirl (1), Southampton on May 14, 10 5:40 PM
I have known Robert Florio for over 10 years and have worked closely with him. He has always been an asset to our community, and for those of us who know him personally, we know him to have the utmost integrity. Cases such as this should not be tried in the Press, which is basically what you have done by publishing it. Remember, there are always two sides to every story. Hopefully the Press will dedicate the same amount of coverage when it is Robert's turn.
By seapuss (1), Southampton on May 16, 10 2:01 PM
1 member liked this comment
1/2 of these comments read like they were written by Rob Florio under 15 fake names but hey, who am I?
By cochise316 (58), southampton on May 17, 10 9:29 PM
1 member liked this comment
You wish.

Mr. Florio's hard earned reputation as being honest and smart precedes him.

He has many, many collegues, associates and friends in this area.

I predict that all will pan out in his favor- as it legally should.
By elliot (254), sag harbor on May 18, 10 4:38 PM
Cochise... LOL... Didn't want to go driving on the beach and now you are saying my posts are fake..... Funny.. I didn't know you posted on here...We are stopping by
By Aspatuck Gardens (30), Westhampton Beach on May 18, 10 9:44 PM